Restoration efforts undertaken on Mt. Zion church
By Chris Edwards
CHESTER – The oldest church still standing in Tyler County has been undergoing a facelift, and there are plans to fill the church with worship soon.
Mt. Zion Baptist Church, which is located on Hwy. 287, in Chester, was built in 1845 at Mt. Hope, and in 1870, it was moved to its present-day location. The restoration efforts begun in October 2019, and according to Lisa Wappler, who has helped spearhead the efforts, it has taken longer than initially anticipated, due to the problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wappler said that the majority of the work done to the church has been by family members of those who are buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery, which is located behind the church building.
The land that was donated for the purpose of that cemetery, according to Wappler, was given by her great-great grandfather, Joseph Peters.
“As children, many of us remember going to church there with our grandparents,” she said.
To celebrate the completion of the work, Wappler said a service is planned, and the volunteers hope to fill up the little white church.
The service is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 16 at 11 a.m., and will include singing, preaching, fellowship and a potluck lunch afterward. The luncheon will take place at Caney Creek Baptist Church, and Wappler said anyone hoping to attend is encouraged to bring a couple of dishes to share.
Wappler said that many of her family members have been generous in monetary gifts, as well as their time, toward the work that needed to be done at the church. “Because of their generosity, we were able to level the church, make many repairs, rebuild several windows, paint inside, pressure wash and have the outside repainted,” she said.
She added that during some of the workdays as many as 22 people came out to lend helping hands, and on occasion, some people took it upon themselves to trim trees, move dirt, grind stumps and clear the fencelines.
For the upcoming service, Wappler said that those wishing to attend need to RSVP by Oct. 6 by including their name and how many will be attending with them. They can call or text her number at 409-293-8157 or Susan Smart at 409-781-2341.
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